Madras 1st Public Talk 5th January 1952
I have to make one or two announcements. These meetings on every Saturday and Sunday will go on till the 10th of February and there will be discussions every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., the same time as usual.
I think most of us are aware of the extraordinarily complex and vast problems that surround each one of us. There is so much contradiction among the experts - political, social and religious. There are those who assert constantly that only a certain system must be valid. Religiously, there is a contradiction of belief. It seems to me that if you want to solve any of these problems you must all think anew and not rely on any one source, on any authority; and that seems most extraordinarily difficult for most of us. Either we turn to the past as a source of information or for purposes of imitation, or rely on some future promise - economic, political or religious. Either we turn back to the past as a means of solace by asserting that religious conformity is essential, or we rely on the economic authority of revolution and future promise of the ideal state. Until we very carefully and intelligently think out the problems for ourselves, I do not think there is any way of dissolving any of these confusing and contradictory problems.
What I propose to do during these discussions is to think out with each one of you this extraordinarily complex problem of living. You know this problem is not confined to a narrow area. All over the world it is the same. We are confused; we do not know what to do; and we do not know how to set about it or to discover why each group is fighting the other. Ambition, corruption in the name of peace and other ideals are rampant throughout the world, not only parochially but all-extensively. Now if we want to really solve this problem, we have to think it out ourselves. We have to find the right answer. I believe there is an answer and I am completely convinced there is an answer. But the mere discovery of the answer is not a solution. So what you and I have to do is to find out, which means, you and I have to listen to each other to find out the right answer. Listening is an extraordinarily difficult art. That is because most of us are incapable of listening, because we have so much knowledge, so much information; we have read so much; our prejudices are so strong; our experiences are like the walls that surround us; and through these prejudices, looking over these walls, we try to listen. Can we listen to anything if our mind, at least temporarily, is not free of the prejudices, and is not always referring to some knowledge which we have all translated and interpreted? That is one of the greatest difficulties. Is it not?
Though we appear to be incapable of listening, it seems to me that it is one of the most necessary and essential things that we have to do, you and I have to do. You should not translate what I am saying, or interpret what I am saying, or understand it according to your background; because when you do that, you stop all thinking. Don't you? If you say `that conforms to my understanding', you have stopped thinking, you have stopped listening; you do not open the door to see greater visions, greater depths of those words. To listen without interpretation requires extraordinary alertness of mind. Please try during these discussions and at home to really listen to each other without interpretation, just to listen without translating according to your prejudices. After all, translations mean that you have previous knowledge which confines thought, prevents it from penetrating further and deeper. So it is essential that you and I should establish the right kind of relationship. I do not believe in authority of any kind; and if you treat what I am saying as authoritarian, then you stop listening. You will have to investigate and try to find out what is the answer, the right answer, what is the way out of this appalling mess of war and peace, of this contradiction between the rich and the poor, between those who are seeking authority in the name of every form of violence and peace. If we do not seek and understand the right answer, I think we have no business or responsibility of sitting and listening to each other and wasting our time. I feel very ardently that if we, even two or three of us, could sit down and go into this thoroughly, setting aside every thing to find out, then there is a possibility of starting on a little scale till it becomes a roaring storm; but that requires earnestness, that requires real exchange of thought and not mere assertion of prejudice and constancy of a particular experience.
So, how is it possible to find out the right answer? I am sure that is what most of us are trying to find out. Are we not? Any thoughtful person must be seeking the right solution, the lasting and permanent solution to all this appalling suffering, misery, this contradiction between the rich and the poor, between those who are seeking authority in the name of peace, between the powerful and the downtrodden, between those who have nothing and those who have everything, between those who are seeking power. Surely, there must be an answer to all this, must there not be? How are we going to find it out? Surely, the first essential requirement to understand or to search out the answer must be the under standing that all search is conditioned by desire. Let us think about it for a while. If I seek an economic or other answer to this problem, without understanding the instrument that seeks, that very instrument is limited, confined, conditioned by the desire that is out seeking. If I am seeking the right answer, the right solution to any problem, is not the search conditioned by my desire? So before I can seek an answer, I must understand desire. Is that not so? If I want to know if there is God, if there is such a thing as Absolute Happiness, surely, before I can seek it, I must understand the mind that seeks it. Otherwise, the mind will condition the object of my search That is fairly obvious. Is it not? Those who seek anything, will find what they seek; but what they find, will depend on their desire. If you seek comfort and security, you will find them; but that will not be real; on the contrary, that will produce more and more confusion, contradiction and misery. So, before we begin to seek, we must understand the whole process of desire. In the very search of understanding desire, you will find the answer. But to seek the answer without understanding desire, the centre of recognition, is futile. Those who are really earnest, those who really want to see a peaceful world, to have peaceful relationship with each other, to be friendly and compassionate, must surely solve this problem first.
If you really consider what is happening in the world you will see how man is dividing himself, bringing wars, confusion and utter misery. To all this confusion, to all this in creasing and expanding misery, there must be an answer; that is possible only if we understand the process of desire. Whenever we seek anything without understanding our desire, we are seeking an idea as a means of action; all our search ends in an idea - idea as a formulation, as a concept, or as an experience; we are seeking a conclusion, an idea, a concept. But an idea, a concept, a formulation can never produce action. I do not know if that is clear, or rather abstract and confusing. To us, idea is very important, idea in the shape of experience or in the shape of a conclusion. So, when we are seeking, we are seeking an idea which we will translate afterwards into action. First, I have an idea of what I should do, and then I act. We have the pattern of what a society should be, and then we conform to that pattern. So, there is always a contradiction, a competition, a struggle between action and idea.
Is this search for an idea truly an answer, or is the search to be independent of idea and be only action? This is not very complex if you really think about it. It is really very important to understand this before you proceed further. Because our search is intellectual, there is a contradiction between idea and action, a gap, an interval; and our constant endeavour is to bridge the two together, which is surely a waste of time, stupidity, call it what you will; because we do not understand that the search depends on desire, and that desire essentially breeds idea. Surely therefore, those of us who are really earnest, who are not carried away by emotional nonsense or by their own prejudices, by their own vanities, if they really want to find out a peaceful and lasting answer to this problem, have to search our and understand desire, which means action. The very understanding of desire is action and not idea.
The moment you have an idea, what happens? Watch your own mind and see, discover what happens when you have an idea. You want to translate that idea into action. Don't you? You want to put it into a picture or to do something with it, convey, translate, communicate it with somebody. Idea is never action. Is it? If peace is based on an idea, then you are bound to have contradictions of how to carry it out, how to implement, and how to bring it about. But if you begin to under stand the whole process of desire, then you will see that action is independent of thought, of idea. The mistake we make is that we first have the idea and then act. But if we begin to understand desire, which is a very complex and intricate problem, then you will see that action follows the understanding of each desire.
What do I mean by understanding desire? Desire is not static, is it? You cannot impose certain rules and regulations on desire if you would understand it. Would you? You have to follow it you have to observe you have to follow every movement of its intricate, conscious and unconscious whims and fancies. Have you not? You cannot say `That is right desire. That is wrong desire. This is all right. This, I want to do', and so on. When you say so, you put an end to the understanding and subsequent following of that desire. This is not easy because we have been trained from childhood to repress, to control, to dominate and say `This is right, that is wrong; and therefore, we put an end to investigation, to search and to all understanding. Do not begin to say immediately `This is right desire or wrong desire'. Let us find out. It is like following a path on the map. That is, if you are earnest; but if you want to be flippant about it and want to play about it in the name of peace, obviously that has no meaning. Such people have no experience. If you would really follow it out, then you will see that you have a centre which is always the process of recognition. There is no experience if there is no recognition. If I do not recognize, I have no experience. Have I? You only say `I have an experience' when there is a process of recognition taking place. Our difficulty is to understand desire without this process of recognition.
Do you understand what I mean by recognition? By recognition, I mean something that happens when you meet or see somebody. You then have a subjective reaction, emotion, and you recognize; you give it a name; and that recognition only strengthens each experience; and each experience limits, conditions, and narrows down the self. So, if you would understand what is reality, what is God, that centre of recognition must completely end. Otherwise, what have you? The projection of your mind and memory, what you have learnt from the past, with which you recognize what is happening. And what is happening is your own experience projected. If I want to know what truth is, my mind must be in a state in which no recognition can ever take place. Is that possible? Do not please accept any of these things if you are not convinced. Have a balanced and sane scepticism about it all. You are not my pupils or my followers. You are dignified human beings trying to find out the right answer to all this appalling misery. To find out the right answer you must be extremely sharp, doubting, questioning, being balanced with scepticism. Is it possible? Do you have an experience which is not recognized? Do you understand what it means? Because that is after all God, that is the Truth, that is the Eternal or what you will. The moment you have a measure with which to measure, that is not Truth. Our Gods are measurable; we know them previously. Our scriptures, our friends and our religious teachers have so conditioned us that we know what every thing is. All that we are doing is merely this process of recognition.
Is it possible to dissolve the centre of recognition? After all, it is the desire that gives strength to one's recognition. To say `I know, I have had experience, it is so', indicates the strengthening of self. There is no higher self, no lower self; self is self. Now to find out if there is God, if there is truth, if there is such a thing as a state in which recognition is not possible, in which all measurement has ceased, surely, we must begin to understand desire. It is so absurd for the so-called religious people to say `there is God', and for others to say `There is no God'. That is not solving the problem, nor is the repeating of the Bible, or the Bhagavad Gita, or God knows what else. Surely that is not solving the problem. That is what everybody has been doing through centuries. Yet, we have not solved it. We are increasing our problems more and more, bringing greater and greater miseries upon us. So, to understand this problem of existence with all its confusion, its extraordinary trials, troubles, tribulations and misery, surely, we have to understand desire, to follow it. You can only follow it when the mind is aware of it self, when you are not looking at desire as something outside of you, when you are following it. Look here, sirs. I have a desire. What do I do? My instinctive reaction is to condemn it, to say how idiotic, how stupid it is; or to say how good, how noble it is. Then what happens? I have not really followed the desire; I have not gone into, I have not understood it; I have put an end to it. Please think it out, and you will see the extraordinary importance of it. Then I assure you, you will have revolution, revolution of the greatest kind; because inward revolution is the only revolution, not economic revolution; because inward revolution will always conquer outward revolution, but outer revolution can never conquer inner. What is important is inward psychological revolution, regeneration; and that can only take place when we follow, understand the whole process, the complex process of psychological desire, motives, urges conscious as well as unconscious. That is not easy. It is no use saying `I have got it now, everything is all right; I am trans formed; because to say so, is only to find yourself back into the whirl of action. If we can understand how to pursue desire, how to be acquainted with it, how not to translate it, then we shall solve all these problems.
How is it possible for an ordinary person like you and me, who has got so many problems - economic, family, religious, the mess we are all in - to pursue desire to the end, to go with it, to understand it? Is that not the question? How am I who is not intelligent, who has got so many formulations, prejudices, memories, how am I to follow desire? It would be easy if you had a companion who would stop you each time, and say: `Look, what are you doing? You are interpreting, translating, condemning desire. You are not really following it. You are really putting a cap on it'. If somebody could force you every instant and make you observe what you are doing, then perhaps it will be helpful. But you have no such companion; you too do not want such a companion, be cause it is too difficult, too irritating, too disturbing. But, you will have such a companion in your own mind if you are earnest and say `I want to understand it'. Don't create any intellectual difficulty by asking `When I say I want it, is that not a desire'? That is only a quibbling of words, that is clever argumentation and has no validity. Then you and I will not understand it, because we must use words in order to convey; but if you merely put a stop at a certain point, and refuse to go beyond and understand the words in their connotation, then all action ceases. Take any desire, desire to be powerful, which most of us have; desire to dominate, which most of us have; clerk or president or any body rich or poor has the desire to be powerful. Do not condemn it, do not say `It is right; it is wrong', but go into it; you will then see where it will lead you. You do not have to read any book. All the subconscious accumulations of desire for power through various means will be open to the conscious. There you have the book of knowledge; and if you do not know how to read it, you will never understand anything. You are following all the rubbish that has no meaning because, in your heart, in your mind, truth lies, and it is no good seeking it outside though it may be pleasing to you to do so. So we lead very complex and contradictory lives not only individually but collectively, Brahmin against non-Brahmin and so on. They are not only parochial problems but vast problems, world problems; and you cannot solve them through merely being confined to a narrow area. We must think of this thing as a tremendous whole, not as a little person investigating a little problem.
So, that is what we are going to discuss and talk about for the next six weeks, that is, how to understand desire and how, if possible, to go beyond recognition, that centre which recognizes, which cripples all creative action. Please do not come if you really are not earnest. It is very much better to have two or three who are really earnest. It is sheer waste of time on your part because I feel I have talked for so many years and with what result? Do not have any sympathy for me, please. I feel there is something in that centre that can be grasped and understood; because, as you know, it is something much greater than physical or superficial existence. I would like to convey this to the two or three who are really serious and can go into it. But it is very difficult to find those two or three, because we have got all kinds of people with their self-importance, their ambitions, and their refusal to see beyond themselves. So, I beg of you most earnestly not to come if you are not serious, if you are not earnest; because if you are earnest, we can go very far and understand, not eventually but immediately. And that is where there is real transformation, to see a thing very clearly and to act upon it; and that requires enormous patience, observation and inward integrity.
Question: You have been in retreat for the past sixteen months and that, for the first time in your life. May we know if there is any significance in this?
Krishnamurti: Don't you also want to go away sometimes to quiet and take stock of things and not merely become a repetitive machine, a talker, explainer and expounder? Don't you want to do that some time, don't you want to be quiet, don't you want to know more of yourself? Some of you wish to do it, but economically you cannot. Some of you might want to do; but family responsibility and so on crowd in your way. All the same, it is good to retreat to quiet and to take stock of every thing that you have done. When you do that, you acquire experiences that are not recognized, not translated. Therefore, my retreat has no significance to you. I am sorry. But your retreat, if you follow it rightly, will have significance to you. And I think it is essential sometimes to go to retreat, to stop everything that you have been doing, to stop your beliefs and experiences completely, and look at them anew, not keep on repeating like machines whether you believe or do not believe. You would then let in fresh air into your minds. Wouldn't you? That means you must be in secure, must you not? If you can do so, you would be open to the mysteries of nature and to things that are whispering about us, which you would not otherwise reach; you would reach the God that is waiting to come, the truth that cannot be invited but comes itself. But we are not open to love, and other finer processes that are taking place within us, because we are all too enclosed by our own ambitions, by our own achievements, by our own desires. Surely it is good to retreat from all that, is it not? Stop being a member of some society. Stop being a Brahmin, a Hindu, a Christian, a Mussulman. Stop your worship, rituals, take a complete retreat from all those and see what happens. In a retreat, do not plunge into something else, do not take some book and be absorbed in new knowledge and new acquisition. Have a complete break with the past and see what happens. Sirs, do it, and you will see delight. You will see vast expanses of love, understanding and freedom. When your heart is open, then reality can come. Then the whisperings of your own prejudices, your own noises, are not heard. That is why it is good to take a retreat, to go away and to stop the routine - not only the routine of out ward existence but the routine which the mind establishes for its own safety and convenience.
Try it sirs, those who have the opportunity. Then perhaps you will know what is beyond recognition, what truth is which is not measured. Then you will find that God is not a thing to be experienced, to be recognized; but that God is something which comes to you without your invitation. But, that is only when your mind and your heart are absolutely still, not seeking, not probing, and when you have no ambitions to acquire. God can be found only when the mind is no longer seeking advancement. If we take a retreat from all that, then perhaps the whisperings of desire will cease to be heard, and the thing that is waiting will come directly and surely.
January 5, 1952
Madras 1st Public Talk 5th January 1952
Texts and talks of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti quotes. Books about
J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.